Hunkering Down in the Writing Cave

loch: a walk away from the writing cave

The Writing Cave

The loch continues to inspire awe with its reflected beauty. But the writing cave has me now. I don’t want to leave it. I want to write and write and write. Even when my brain is too tired to do it well anymore, that’s where I want to be.

It’s all the fault of TENDU. This intense and obsessive behavior always happens when I’m working on it. But I’m nearly there now. I’m on the last pages of the final edit. It’ll be off to the proofreader soon. And then I’ll be diving into the second book in the series, CABRIOLE. I suspect it’s going to have the same effect. I can already feel the emotional pull of the first chapters.

Remnants of Autumn

beech tree in its autumn garb. From the writing cave.

There are still some wonderful autumn colours around, in places that are sheltered from the frost. I stare at their brilliance before rushing back home. To the cave. That last sex scene is not going to rewrite itself… These are somewhat naughtier books than my others.

I intend getting all three titles ready and rapid releasing them next year, a month apart. So, the schedule of the writing cave is all set for winter.

Book Recommendations

Terry Tyler, a writer I really admire, has named SISTERS as one of her three book recommendations of 2022 over on the damppebbles book blog. “I loved this book because it so cleverly shows us a picture of life in the times of the Roman Conquest…” See the whole write-up and the other recommended books here.

Mastodon

I’m over on Mastodon here. So far, it seems quite nice. Rather like Twitter was years ago with people sharing interesting things and chatting. No algorithm. Less drama.

A Deer

There was a deer in the frosty field this morning. It’s to the far left of the picture and is small and blurred. You might be able to see it if you click to enlarge.

frosty field near the writing cave

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

When Morragh speaks to another person for the very first time, she has no idea that he is an invader in her land.

What she does next constitutes a huge betrayal of her people, threatening her closest relationships and even her way of life itself.

Paperback, Kindle and on Kindle Unlimited:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD is a story of chosen sisters, fierce warriors, divided loyalties and love.

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD by Ailish Sinclair

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The Dark Blue Hues of Winter

The dark blue hues of the loch and sky

Continuing on in my weather and landscape obsessed way, it’s another post about the season. I shall endeavor not to make every title end in ‘of winter’ over the next few months, but that’s what is happening today. The dark blue hues of the loch and the sky got me.

dark blue hues

The dark of the trees and the light of the moon too.

dark blue hues of winter

It happened so fast, this shift to the colour palette of winter. Even in town, surrounded by grey buildings, the light is changed and imbued with a hint of blue now.

But it’s by the loch that I want to be. It’s there that the dark blue hues are at their most intense. It’s there that I mull over the scene I’m working on in Tendu. It’s dark too. Like the water and the woods. And, I love it.

dark blue hues of the loch

Winter Reading?

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodiverse main character and some rather complicated romance.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Review from Terry Tyler: “It’s a fabulous story, a real page-turner and so well written. It made me think about the passage and circle of time, of the constancy of the land on which we live and the transient nature of human life. Loved it.

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

The Mermaid and the Bear cover

Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Review from Tonya Ulynn Brown: “Before I go any further, I just have to say, this is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read…

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society Editor’s Pick

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for occasional emails that always include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a more intimate space than the blog.

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The First Frost of Winter

The first frost of winter brings blue skies and cirrus clouds

We’ve had the first frost, that seasonal reminder of what real cold actually is. Many of the trees are bare now and the skies are icy blue.

The first frost at the side of the track, Scotland

It does make for crisp, less muddy walks.

In the older post Walking the Witchy Ways of Aberdeen, I mentioned that I was called ‘weather obsessed’ in the Evening Standard. Recent writings here do suggest that might, in fact, be the case. I’ve certainly been waxing lyrical about autumn all over the blog.

But, you see, I often miss seasonal beauty due to medical condition flare-ups. I remember being sad about missing autumn last year. Seeing it through the windows was no substitute for marching through those crunchy leaves.

So, this year, I march. And I stop to appreciate the sparkle of that first frost.

Frosty morning, Scotland. First frost

Sisters at the Edge of the World

Romans + Celts = some rather complicated romance!

Set in 1st century Scotland, the novel features a neurodiverse main character, chosen sisters, fierce warriors and the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

From recent reviews:

  • An extraordinary read.
  • A fabulous story.
  • Eye-opening, heartbreaking and beautiful.

Available in paperback, kindle and on Kindle Unlimited.

Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailish Sinclair

Writer’s Tip Jar

A Loch Through the Seasons: mist, sunsets and snow

loch at sunset
misty Aberdeenshire loch

Clouds of mist swirl over the surface of the loch.

The picture above was taken after an unexpectedly hot day led to unexpectedly beautiful conditions. Well, not completely unexpected. It’s always beautiful, always different.

Summer Loch

Summer brings lush green foliage and colour to the loch*. It’s not very deep so swimming can be warm, though muddy.

summer Aberdeenshire loch

Autumn

That glassy ‘stand and stare’ stillness can happen at any time of year, but it most commonly occurs in Autumn. Sunsets are pink, silver or even purple. Whatever the sky is doing is intensified in reflection.

sunset

The Loch in Winter

Scottish winters are fierce. One year layer upon layer of ice and snow built up so thick that people and dogs ran about on top of the loch. I watched a fox run right across from one side to the other. It was at once surreal and yet so very real, unconnected from civilisation as it feels up there in the woods. No TV, no computers, just life and joy and fun on a natural huge flat screen among the trees.

snowy Aberdeenshire loch

I hope I will be well enough to walk up there soon. And what will await? A liquid mirror? Slow moving ripples? The slightest change in airflow is made visible by water. If there’s blue in the sky, there will be blue in the loch. Maybe there’ll be whooping swans with their yellow beaks, or an otter leaping about on the banks. I love the sound of otters giggling in the evening… I miss it.

whooper swans flying up from the loch
Whooper swans over the loch

* I freely admit to having overused the word ‘loch’ in this post. The word ‘lake’ is not a suitable substitute. If you don’t come from Scotland you can have no idea how very wrong that notion is. And while we’re at it, let’s make sure you’re saying/thinking the word right. The ‘ch’ sound is like a Scottish wildcat (something I once saw up by the large expanse of water, but no one believes me) hissing in the back of your throat. There you are, got it.

fun on the loch
Boating days…

The books:

Ailish's books

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen.

Set in an Aberdeenshire castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the Scottish witchcraft accusations and a love story.

Paperbacks and kindle: Amazon UK or Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society Editor’s Pick

And coming soon…

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD cover

Set in 1st century Northern Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD is a tale of chosen sisters, fierce warriors, divided loyalties and, ultimately, love. More…

Writing Update

I am back editing the manuscript now. My poor characters have moved on from the battle scene at last! Though the phrase ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’ springs to mind…

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Proofreading, a Tree and Fox Tracks

proofreading, tree and fox tracks

Just a small post, and a short wintry walk, written amid the nerve wracking experience of proofreading (originally from February 2021).

It’s been snowing.

Quite a lot.

Above are fox tracks in the woods. Below, an oak leaf.

oak leaf in the snow: proofreading

Scary Proofreading

I’ve been proofreading Fireflies and Chocolate (out now: Amazon), desperately seeking any errors, making tiny tweaks.

Last chance to change anything. Last chance to get it right before it goes back to the publisher. It’s a little bit scary, this final stage of writing a novel.

In the woods

So, I trudge. Through the snow. Through the trees.

I breathe in the fresh cold air. It feels good.

Calming. Natural. Real.

Emerging from the woods, I hold my face up to the sun, follow the fox tracks and hope all will be well.

sunshine through the trees

The Mermaid and the Bear

“Once Upon a Time, in the Days of Auld Lang Syne…”

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair in the snow by deer tracks

THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR is a Scottish tale that includes a castle, a handsome Laird, witchcraft accusations, a stone circle and lots of love…

Paperback and Kindle:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Waterstones

Keep up with all my news by signing up to the mailing list. It’s occasional and personal and always contains some exclusive photos.

snowy woods

Finding Castles in the Snow

Through the gates to Fyvie Castle. Ailish Sinclair | Castles in the Snow

Here we are at the start of our quest to find castles in the snow.

Fyvie

We pass through the gates to Fyvie Castle where it’s more icy than snowy and we’re getting down and frosty with it!

Originally posted 2019.

A frosty Fyvie Castle. Ailish Sinclair | Castles in the Snow

Great shadows reach towards the castle, but we’re backing away, we’re leaving… seeking more of those castles in the snow…

Shadows reach towards the castle.Ailish Sinclair | Castles in the Snow

We’re travelling across country like Ice Road Truckers to…

Delgatie!

Delgatie Castle lit up in the sun. Ailish Sinclair | Castles in the Snow

It’s bright and properly snowy here. Let’s walk in the woods.

A snowy scene in Delgatie woods. Ailish Sinclair | Castles in the Snow

And circle back round to the castle.

Delgatie Castle on the horizon. Ailish Sinclair | Castles in the Snow

Say hello to the unicorns!

The unicorns of Delgatie Castle.

On to a stormier day and a dark ruin:

Huntly

Huntly Castle peeks through the trees.

Look at the old chimneys…

The snow dusted ruinous walls of Huntly Castle.

And the slopes and trees…

Sloping trees at the back of Huntly Castle

Finally, it’s time to snuggle up at home with hot chocolate in a mermaid mug!

Hot chocolate in a mermaid mug! Ailish Sinclair | Castles in the Snow

My Books

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodiverse main character and some rather complicated romance!

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

Cover of Ailish Sinclair's 'The Mermaid and the Bear'

Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society

feet

See my About Page here

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If Candlemas Day is clear and bright…

This Candlemas post was originally published in 2014.

Hot

I just sat in the hot place. It was good, it was sunny and bright, though it offered only a vague warmth today.

The ‘hot place’ is a point on our property that is sheltered from both North and East winds by walls and situated next to large windows that reflect the sunlight and bestow a sort of ‘double sunning’. It is rather like a portal to another country, a warmer clime or different season. In summer it can reach unbearable temperatures. In the deepest months of winter the sun doesn’t touch it at all. This was the first time it lit up this year, fitting then that it’s Groundhog Day (wiki), Candlemas (wiki) and Imbolc (wiki).

Feeling the sun on my face, without the usual buffeting wind, was a good reminder that the Earth is turning and Spring is on its way. More good reminders, brave little snowdrops:

snowdrops on Candlemas

Cold

It’s been an odd winter, very dark but with none of the usual bright and dramatic snow of Scotland. The continual rain, mud and roof leakages have made the season seem long and arduous. Grey. Dull. No enchanted snowy moonlit walks where surprised owls fly low overhead, no snow angels or sledging. I almost miss having to dig my way into the woodshed (almost, not really; it was fairly tortuous, nasty when ice dripped down your neck too). Solstice 2010:

wood shed in the snow

The wind has been notably fierce, bringing an ancient beech tree crashing to the ground one night. I heard it from my bed half a mile away, three loud cracks as its branches broke. How disorienting to stand among high boughs and look through to what was the ground, upended like the tree:

a tree fallen on Candlemas

The world on its side. An oliphaunt fallen.

So winter: snow properly, or let Spring through. The sun is nice today; I’d like more of that please, I’m ready to laze in the hot place with a book. But if this saying be true, so be it:

If Candlemas Day is clear and bright, winter will have another bite.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain, winter is gone and won’t come again.

snowdrops on Candlemas

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Chosen Sisters, Romans and Romance

new novel from Ailish Sinclair

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodiverse main character and some rather complicated romance.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Review from Terry Tyler: “It’s a fabulous story, a real page-turner and so well written. It made me think about the passage and circle of time, of the constancy of the land on which we live and the transient nature of human life. Loved it.

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

The Witch Stone in Winter

Frosty hill leading up to the Witch Stone. Ailish Sinclair | Writer

The ground is solid, all the ruts and bumps hard and crunchy under my feet as I climb the hill. And there on the top, small from this angle, is the Witch Stone.

It’s said that witches were burned there in the past.

It’s quiet now. Cold. Peaceful.

Ladybirds are hibernating on the Witch Stone today! I hope they survive the season.

Ladybirds hibernate on the Witch Stone. Ailish Sinclair | Writer

Chosen Sisters, Romans and Romance

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodiverse main character and some rather complicated romance.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Review from Terry Tyler: “It’s a fabulous story, a real page-turner and so well written. It made me think about the passage and circle of time, of the constancy of the land on which we live and the transient nature of human life. Loved it.

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

Witchcraft and a Handsome Laird

The Mermaid and the Bear cover

Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Review from Tonya Ulynn Brown: “Before I go any further, I just have to say, this is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read…

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Kidnapping, Slavery and Friendship

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society Editor’s Pick

Newletter

Go here to sign up for my occasional emails that include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a more intimate space than the blog.

Writer’s Tip Jar

Snowy Scottish scenes, loch, stones, woods

Strichen lake, a snowy Scottish scene

It’s raining here in Scotland, but I’m thinking about snow. I’m still a bit monstrous, but I’m thinking about pretty things, sparkly things, Christmas baubles and frost and ice.

Snowy Scottish Scenes

That’s the loch in Strichen Community Park above, and below.

A Scottish snowy scene, Strichen Lake

And then stones. I think about them a lot. Witchy ones in the half light of approaching snow:

Snowy Scottish scenes: the witch stone

Bronze Age ones. The Memsie Burial Cairn:

Memsie Burial Cairn in the snow

And circles. Of course, those.

stone circle in the snow

My thoughts go to the woods of Delgatie Castle…

A Snowy Scottish scene in Delgatie woods

I would like to be marching along those paths.

snowy track

Just look at the fluffy trees!

snowy trees at Delgatie

Closer to home, there’s the field.

snowy Scottish scenes

Track newly cleared by the farmer:

Tractor tracks in the snow

And then there’s a fox!

fox in the snow

And deer bottoms…

deer bottoms in the snow

I mustn’t forget frost at the beach. I love the crunch of the sand.

frost at the beach

The low winter sun shines through.

Low sun in the snow: snowy Scottish scenes

Here’s hoping we get some snow soon 🙂

Interesting review of The Mermaid and the Bear, assessing it on the first five sentences alone, here from Jennifer Starks.

The Mermaid and the Bear is the perfect Christmas gift!

Read my books for free

Back in the world of books, all my novels are on Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s lending service, and that has a 30 day free trial, though some people are being offered 3 months for free just now. See all the books here. Also in paperback.

kindle unlimited

Writer’s Tip Jar

Oh, to wander in the woods…

snowy woods in Scotland

Post from December 2019.

The Woods in Winter

That is my favourite bit of path in the woods by my house. It’s also the most productive. When I get stuck with a storyline or a finicky little plot detail that just won’t iron out, that’s where I go, and solutions become clear. Big epiphanies about characters and back stories happen there too. Maybe it’s because it’s a timeless landscape. Or maybe I just feel relaxed and at peace there.

Just now though, I am recovering from flu and can’t walk in the woods. Soon, I tell myself. Soon. I can sit up and write so I may really need to go there soon! (Edit 2022: it would not be soon. This was the start of a non-woodland path to an auto-immunity diagnosis that would wind its way through hospital stays and many monstrous moments!)

Reviews

I’ve been deeply touched by how much thought people have been putting into their reviews of THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR.

Local Quine Kate the Quiet Knitter’s review “This wonderful magical tale then takes a deviation towards the darkness and from here Sinclair’s research and writing really shines. Her portrayal of 16th century Scotland is entrancing, and the details of the witch-hunts taking place in that time are fascinating.”

On the Mum, Write NOW blog “Overall the characters are lovable, I found it interesting that their lives intertwined slightly with Shakespeare and also touched on LGBT culture and attitudes at that time. It really felt that there was a depth of historical knowledge informing the narrative which I always enjoy.”

An Impertinent Interview

And the Wee Writing Lassie wrote about the book and asked me 7 impertinent questions! “Another inclusive detail in Ailish’s novel is the fact that her heroine – Isobell – is a plus sized woman, and this is never treated like a problem, or something about her that needs to be fixed, by the narrative. All body type inclusion, yeah!”

The Woods in Summer

The same path, though the other end and other direction, in the woods, in summer:

green woods

Newsletter

For updates about my life and writing, sign up to the mailing list. It always includes some exclusive photos and is a more intimate space than the blog.

Read my books for free

All my novels are on Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s lending service, and that has a 30 day free trial, though some people are being offered 3 months for free just now. See all the books here. Also in paperback.

kindle unlimited

Writer’s Tip Jar